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.