It’s like living in a menagerie

Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 15th April 2011. Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.com''DUP Leader Rt Hon Peter Robinson canvassing in Lisburn on Friday morning accompanied by DUP'Assembly candidates Brenda Hale and Edwin Poots.
Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 15th April 2011. Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.com''DUP Leader Rt Hon Peter Robinson canvassing in Lisburn on Friday morning accompanied by DUP'Assembly candidates Brenda Hale and Edwin Poots.

We’ve pygmies, lemmings, weasels, sloths and rodents. It’s quite a menagerie for such a small place.

It’s the pygmies versus the lemmings in the DUP but with a crisis looming for Stormont we should probably be more worried about the sloths. They’re to blame for the extraordinarily slow pace of everything.

We should be used to it by now, yet it never ceases to amaze. Things only go dead slow or stop. We never get steady progress; we just get stalemate or crisis.

When Ian Paisley died, Ian Junior called his dad’s DUP critics “pygmies”. Thanks to the Paisley’s jaw-dropping interview with Eamonn Mallie we’ve no need to wonder who the pygmies are.

Then Paisley loyalist Edwin Poots got too big for his boots. Rumour has it he criticised the proposed talks and on the biggest radio show in the world he was lukewarm about the First Minister. This time, Poots had gone too far and got himself sacked as health minister.

He hit back by volunteering Robinson for early retirement. Robinson snapped. Reverting to the Mr Angry we used to know and not-to-love, he said his critics had, “the strategic vision of a lemming”.

In case you’re confused, the pygmies belong to the slightly pragmatic wing of the party and the lemmings belong to the fundamentalist, evolution denying wing.

Both pygmies and lemmings are also weasels. “In the parade of North Korean-style DUP tweeters who pledged their all to the leader last week, the pious and weaselly…” wrote Fionnuala O’Connor of last week’s DUP MLAs’ stage-managed pledges of devotion to their dear leader.

Then there are the sloths. If you’re willing to accept welfare cuts you might put Sinn Féin into the sloth category but if you’re not then the chief sloths are the British and Irish governments.

In the face of last year’s severe rioting they looked the other way and until recently they were trying hard to ignore the new looming crisis.

Even last week, Ms Villiers sounded remarkably vague and lacking in any conviction. She hoped there would, “perhaps,” be preliminary talks with the parties, “in the next couple of weeks” and hopefully there would be a result by Christmas.

So, that just leaves the minor problems of who is to talk to whom about what, where and under whose chairmanship, to be agreed!

The parties will find agreeing an agenda a big challenge never mind sorting out the issues.

Come back Richard Haass, all is forgiven. Incidentally, the past is insoluble so long as the British government continues to deny it has anything to do with them.

In the meantime, Ulster Unionists and the DUP want to hear the Secretary of State’s response to their demand for a Panel of Enquiry into North Belfast parades.

With no buy-in from the nationalist parties and no guarantee that anything can be delivered ‘on the ground,’ Ms Villiers is between a rock and a hard place on that one.

Back to Peter Robinson, his reference to “strategic vision” was interesting. We’d usually think of the DUP and “vision” in the same sentence as an oxymoron.

In this case though, he said “strategic vision” and we must concede that Peter is reputed to be good at election strategy.

So who are the rodents? They’re the critical, negative, carping media of course.