Dormant Stormont: Where is a good Reviving Spell when you need one?

On Monday afternoon John Lennon appeared, resplendent, at the doors of Stormont Castle. He paused, briefly, before swooping straight down the stone steps with none other than Marilyn Monroe herself.

Then as the light in East Belfast shifted slightly, Gerry Adams came into focus; shaded 60s spectacles atop a wizened old nose.

Michelle obediently came up to his ear, whispering something subtle, soft. And then, as the assembled throngs basked in his bearded wizardry, the Grand Master began to speak.

On many occasions since the coronation of Michelle O’Neill, the previously elusive Adams has been more ‘Puppet Master’ than ‘Grand’, pulling the strings of the Clonoe woman, literally an ever looming presence over her shoulder.

My favourite overheard Gerry Adams anecdote involves a shopping trip to Lidl for a solitary load of bread. The Dear Leader walked up to the till, sliced pan in hand.  And no sooner had he paid his dues, he flashed the pearly whites and was suddenly whisked off into the evening twilight by his cronies.

He’s a cult of personality, meme-friendly and a real O.G. – heck, he might actually have been an Original Gangster once, but sure he’d never let on anyway.

Sinn Fein is seen as exciting, vibrant and progressive among many young and moderate people.  Dramatically, they have captured the ear of the nonchalant nationalist and surged to well-backed victories across Northern Ireland in recent elections.

But now the DUP has stepped onto the scene; gleeful king-makers unlocking a £1.5 billion kitty. Cut to a shot of an anxious looking Michelle as she grips her nails into Gerry’s own treasure chest, keen for advice and reassurance.

Plenty of people have moaned and groaned, expressing concern that Arlene’s gang can’t be trusted with an investment such as this. “Look at RHI! The DUP couldn’t organise the proverbial in a brewery”.

Although there have been plenty of p!ss-ups in hen houses up and down the country as a result of that mammoth cock-up.

On the steps of Stormont Castle, Adams said:

“As is the case with these deals, the divil will be in the detail. But let me say that any money coming in – given the history of austerity and Tory cuts – and which helps to offset all of that pressure on public services is a good thing.”

Despite going on to utter caution and scepticism about the impact on Brexit and warning of DUP skullduggery, his initial conciliatory tone of acknowledgement had said it all: The DUP has got Sinn Fein on the run with this one.

Its leader is back up and running again. Stella has got her groove back.

Several years ago Arlene Foster stormed into Omagh Leisure Centre on the night of the infamous ‘two vote’ face-off between Michelle Gildernew and Rodney Connor in 2010. Bodyguard in tow, she looked a fierce woman, determined to take on any mawn, woman or chyle that got in her way. The only thing missing was a saxophone.

Flash forward to Downing Street where, in the week of Harry Potter’s 20th anniversary, the DUP Death Eaters have arrived at the Ministry of Magic and Baroness Voldemort herself stands above the lamentable Cornelius Fudgery of Theresa May; reputation irreparably changed and clawing desperately to remain a part of the final narrative.

The DUP has been accused by some of selling their mandate in order to buy a dance on the Downing Street stage.

And what?

Sinn Fein’s principles were dropped in the drain a long time ago, in pursuit of its own glories and expediency. It has left leaving rural, parochial Ireland lying dead in the ditch, down in the mire with the masses of dying foetuses.

The IRA split of ’69 included people who felt the Marxist-socialist approach of the main organisation was damaging to the devout Catholic morals of some of its leaders. Look at them now.

The DUP’s own controversies precede them, with dinosaur politics, misogyny and gay rights grievances following them around like a rain cloud. Its stance on marriage equality has been well documented.

However, a reasonable number of DUP people actually do want the Party to move on and embrace equality. But the Leadership knows that the heft of their mandate lies in the older (traditionally conservative) vote.

Obviously not wanting to rock the boat on that, it will take time itself for the balance to naturally shift towards equal-marriage.

Cold hard cash at the moment is great, but there is a worry that Tory-DUP arrangement will lead to the Northern Irish party’s endorsement of hard-hitting austerity measures in the future.

Arlene Foster will flash her brooch to Nigel Dodds and he’ll shepherd the Hateful ten MPs to do the business on the green benches; a short-term sweetener leading to a bumpy road (Just last week we thought unkempt grass verges between Strabane and Sion Mills would be bad enough!)

Depending on your background, it’s a tricky enough to know exactly how to feel about it all. But, to borrow a phrase from the two Gerrys of Sinn Fein, let me be clear: the DUP went to Downing Street and secured a deal that might make a positive bit of difference to the ordinary person in Northern Ireland.

As Arls, Nige and Daniel Jeffrey Donaldson return with serious big bucks for Health, Mental Health, Education and Infrastructure we’re left to wonder if this is potentially progressive politics, for the people.

We may see the big new A5 stretch across from Aghaloo to Emyvale yet. The open roads and open waters of a linked Ireland.

Others will prefer to ride their crocodiles back up the Blackwater, into the closed waters of Lough Neagh, and lie in wait for a chance to snap back; something our dormant Stormont Executive seems unlikely to do.

It’s dead in the water.

Where is a good Reviving Spell when you need one? Here, Harry, show us your wand.

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  • aquifer

    Lets have a nice reviving election, sprinkle some voter magic on the corpses.

  • Redstar

    Another election will solve nothing. Same issues different Mlas

  • Redstar

    I do have to laugh at all this back slapping off the DUP iro the Billion pounds ( much if it old money) they allegedly got

    What’s the first thing they do with their power to prop up the discredited Tories-they vote against a very modest wage rise for some of the worst paid in our society. Pathetic and a taste of things to come which many of us predicted

  • Barney

    Nail square on head…You can only judge a party by what it votes for and against.

    Yesterday the DUP voted against pay rises for nurses, classroom assistants, cleaners, hospital porters, teachers, the British police and fire fighters they even voted against pay rises for their British Army.

  • mjh

    And they are going to find themselves in the same position over and over again during the coming months.

    Labour has embarked on its campaign for the next election. It’s going to take every opportunity for parliamentary votes to make the Conservatives more unpopular with the voters. And each time it does there will be the DUP, standing in the front line of the Conservative defence, soaking up the full force of the Labour attack.

  • chrisjones2

    Anyone running a book on who the new Direct RUle Ministers will be?

  • chrisjones2

    Savaged by a dead sheep?

    Corbyn attacks the Tories on Tower Safety. Whoops the cladding started under Blair. Whoops most of the Authorities with dodgy buildings are Labour. Whoops, Camden removed fire doors to save money

  • mjh

    You’re right, Chris.

    The one who robbed Theresa May of her majority, and is now ahead in the polls. That dead sheep.

    And wasn’t Geoffrey Howe, who precipitated the fall of Margaret Thatcher, the original “dead sheep”?

    Beware of dead sheep!

  • aquifer

    People will vote to get a government. SFDUP looks like a busted flush.

  • chrisjones2

    “a very modest wage rise for some of the worst paid in our society. ”

    On average public sector workers are paid 30% more than the private sector and have hugely better pension and other benefits.

  • chrisjones2

    On average public sector workers are paid 30% more than the private sector

  • chrisjones2

    SF, desperate to lay off the blame for Direct Rule, demand that the two PMS ‘join the talks’.

    What for? Its about agreement between them and the DUP nothing else. Its their problem …let them solve it

  • Croiteir

    No it is not, it is about getting unionism to keep their word

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I do enjoy the irony, which Jason points out but is all too little referred to, that the Provo split from the Goulding’s IRA was one of more religiously-minded, ultra-traditionalist armed-force Republicans baulking at the un-Catholic leftism of the Goulding version of armed-force Republicanism. And now their successors are championing those great Catholic causes of abortion and gay rights as if they always have … meanwhile this bemused long-standing pro-choice and pro-gay-rights atheist unionist can only look on and smile.