“Just when you thought our political system couldn’t get any more dysfunctional…”

This week has demonstrated that, just when we thought our political system couldn’t get any more dysfunctional the Executive goes that extra mile to prove us wrong.

The Covid death rates are increasing and the R number is rising. The medical and scientific evidence supports an extension of the current circuit breaker, and some in the hospitality and service sectors would support that if financial aid were made available.

They are clearly frustrated by this ‘stop then start’ scenario which is detrimental to the long-term survival of their business. Yet we are witnessing a farce being played out around the Executive table. When we need decision and action, we get confusion, political squabbles, and brinkmanship.

Scandalous use of Petition of Concern

The use on two occasions of the Petition of Concern, was nothing short of scandalous. It sectarianised the public health message and introduced a political veto over life in favour of livelihoods, as if there is only this binary choice. This is an unnecessary and dangerous approach.

The two big parties would seem either unable or unwilling to stick to any agreement they reach. Even when the lives of our citizens are at risk , they put their own narrow interests first: though to most rational people, it’s impossible to fathom, just what those interests are.

A strategic way forward

It would seem that a compromise was reached at the eleventh hour., but we should not have to face these continuous stand offs. We are entitled to political leadership that is capable of formulating a strategic way forward and developing plans to deal with this pandemic. Not in a haphazard or piece meal way that covers a few weeks or months, but a long-term plan that covers the duration of the pandemic.

Neither the DUP nor Sinn Fein have shown leadership in relation to Covid restrictions. Both parties have, when it suited them, breeched the guidelines laid down by statue for the rest of us to follow. It’s outrageous that even in the midst of a worldwide pandemic and public health crisis our they can’t put the health and safety of citizens first.

It’s always been difficult

We all know how hard it is to mange in the current pandemic, but it has always been difficult for those people on the breadline. It’s always been difficult for those with mental health issues.

Perhaps we should be glad that the Executive has now acknowledged the horrors of poverty and unemployment, and will rethink its strategy of pay freezes and cutting public sector jobs to facilitate tax cuts. I won’t hold my breath waiting though.

It’s clear that this system of government is never going to work, because if the Executive is incapable of pulling together during a worldwide pandemic , then what hope have we for the future?

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