What’s the difference between taking difficult decisions at Stormont and evolution? Answer: Evolution is faster. At Stormont the can full of difficult choices is always being kicked further down the road.
Just one example of this is Peter and Martin’s plan to avoid choosing between a nationalist and a unionist justice minister. Maybe First Minister Robinson explained his predicament to David Ford of the Alliance Party in something like the flowing terms?
Thanks David. You’re a true friend. As you know, my party has always thought the world of the Alliance Party. You pulled us out of a hole back in 2010 by agreeing to be the justice minister. Martin and I would like you to stay on for a bit after our initial arrangement runs out in May. I know I said we want to get rid of ‘them and us’ politics but it’s tricky when it comes to justice. It’s a touchy subject. Naturally it wouldn’t go down too well with some of ‘us’ if one of ‘them’ were to become justice minister. And you’ll understand it would be almost as difficult for ‘them’ if one of ‘us’ got the job. Isn’t it great that we understand each other so well? Your middle-of-the-road Alliance Party is really terrific although not, of course, in East Belfast where your friend Naomi did me no favours. Still, I’m not a bitter man.
I’m sorry too that I kicked off so angrily when you suggested prison officers’ cap badges might be changed. Just don’t let it happen again. If you remember who put you into office, you’ll have no more bother from me. Please take the job on again.
Oh yes, Martin and I are also sorry that we’re going to scrap the Department of Employment and Learning. Your man Stephen Farry has been doing a grand job but we don’t want to antagonise the SDLP and the Ulster Unionists too much. They get so very angry about the smaller Alliance Party having two seats on the executive when they only have one each.
We don’t want too much trouble as a big fuss in May would only draw attention to our arrangement to keep you on.
Isn’t it ironic that it’s “Employment” that’s causing your minister to lose his job! That’s quite funny. Anyway, thanks for all your help in getting us over our little problem. My predecessor, the big man (Ian Paisley senior) and I always loved your Alliance Party.
Your people were always so nice and moderate whereas my lot could be a bit rough. Voters always like a tough line but we know there are times when moderation can be useful.
Read more form Norman Hamill in the Journal every Tuesday