How long will the talks last? “For the rest of our lives,” joked Gerry Adams as he arrived at Stormont last week. Black humour always had its place in helping us through the long war and the long peace process.
Many a true word was spoken in jest, as they say, and it looks like the talks to end this crisis, the next one, the one after that and so on, will last for the rest of everyone’s life. What happened to the DUP’s promise, after face-saving tinkering with the Good Friday Agreement at St. Andrews, to end stop/start devolution?
While the lifeless body of Aylan Kurd, 3, lying on a Turkish holiday beach in his cut-off trousers and fashionable trainers would bring tears from a stone, our squalid quarrel seems so self-indulgent. While Europe is engulfed in a real crisis we’re engulfed in a pathetic, pretend crisis.
It’s the posturing that gives it away. During the Haass Talks and the Stormont House Talks nobody suggested the Assembly had to be suspended. This time the DUP are desperate to spare their blushes. It can’t be, “business as usual,” they say. Was that a threat or a promise?
It’s OK to have salaries, perks, offices and advisors as usual but not business as usual.
Incidentally, while the crisis was reaching its denouement last Thursday an important vote was taking place. MLAs voted to restore free tea and coffee at Stormont committee meetings. No welfare cuts there then!