Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition (except for opening stuff and jobs announcements)

What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account?

Lady MacBeth, Act V, Scene 1        

Hard to disagree with an essential core of Newton Emerson’s criticism of Peter Robinson, ie that as a leader he’s more tactical than strategic.

He is right too that the First Minister’s assertion that he would not meet the Pope if he were to come to Belfast after the City Council made the Holy Father a generous offer he is likely to ignore [like last time? – Ed] was graceless. .

Popes will certainly take advice on the political wisdom of any such visit, but they come on the invitation of the Catholic church itself, not the local council.

But hey, this is Northern Ireland, where anything goes, and anything means anything you want it to.

As for Robinson, well he is what is. Forty years of his own personal mythology follows him. He’s certainly cautious, but then he’s in a power-sharing administration with a deputy First Minster who’s former aide de camp is now suing his own party.

In the meantime, the Sinn Fein Lord Mayor breaks sod at Girdwood whilst his party colleagues crib about the very deal they agreed to which reduced housing provision on the site.

The party’s Irish language spokesperson (don’t they have a minister for that?) deplores the abolition of Irish language organisations in Northern Ireland that her own ministers actively colluded in.

And hey, in all of the comment on how poorly Protestant boys are faring at school 13 years after Sinn Fein first took over the controls not a mention of who’s responsible for such poor outcomes.

Now John O’Dowd, by far Sinn Fein’s most talented member of the Executive, tells us he’s planning to replace the organisation he was previously planning to bring into existence.

ESA would have undoubtedly addressed some of these problems directly, if it had ever made it into reality. As of the beginning of the year ESA has cost £16 million, now he’s ‘looking at’ alternatives.

On Welfare Reform, the party is  running the same ‘let’s not do anything we don’t have to‘, erm, strategy. The gambit being that if the clock runs out on the Cameron administration so too with the compulsion to comply, and a new round of negotiations will open with a new Labour led government.

In the meantime, no oppositional southern horses will be frightened or harmed in this simulacrous image of a party in government.

Meanwhile the FM and dFM were joking together about another set of jobs (average wage £15,000) coming to Belfast rather than Derry.

All this and more, brought to you “without all of the bother of citizens being empowered to resist, to subvert, to complain, to protest, to organize and agitate”.

Or as John O’Dowd roughly responded to Alex Attwood’s endorsement of Peter Robinson’s claim that Sinn Fein had walked away from a Welfare deal they had previously helped to construct…

“Thankfully, Alex is not a member of Sinn Féin, so therefore he wouldn’t be aware of any discussions going on within Sinn Féin, and thankfully none of the Irish government parties are members of Sinn Féin either.”

Ah, what need of light, or accountability if it should damage our election prospects, eh Lady MacBeth?

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