“Assembly election campaign characterised by superficial discussions on ‘bread and butter issues’.”

Interesting now that the election is over that suddenly the truth emerges about the DUP and Sinn Fein’s footsie over their joint prepping of the next Programme for Government: yet when I asked Gerry Kelly early on Saturday afternoon he was cagey, to say the least (2-50 in).

Excellent from Steven McCaffrey at The Detail, on how this was a choreographed election. It’s worth reading it all, but here’s how he concludes:

A critical analysis of Stormont’s last Programme for Government (PfG) revealed that nearly half its pledges were not met, while there were question-marks over many of the supposed ‘achievements’.

The findings, available here, made a mockery of manifesto commitments paraded during the campaign.

The PfG review also revisited the scandal of the Social Investment Fund – Stormont’s £80million poverty fund delayed in the last Assembly term over what insiders claimed was a row around whether more of the money should go to deprived Catholic or deprived Protestant communities. Politicians made claims, counter claims and denials at the time the story was first reported here.

Separate to that, the High Court in Belfast ruled in June 2015 that Stormont failed to meet a legal obligation to deliver an anti-poverty strategy for Northern Ireland based on objective need.

If similar questions emerged at Westminster over how poverty was being tackled across sections of society, it’s hard to imagine it wouldn’t resurface as a major election issue, but it disappeared around Stormont.

Somehow, similar amnesia surrounded the scandals over Assembly expenses and the international controversy over the Nama property sale. Voters were also left in the dark about who is funding political parties and what influence, if any, donors secure for their generosity.

As a result of all this, political leaders enjoyed a trouble-free election.

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

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