‘Northern Ireland’s Political poo-poo’ – By Brian Rowan

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“We are in big shite,” the source said as he delivered a blunt assessment in just five words.

He is not of the political parties – but a close observer of events on the hill.

For the purposes of this piece, let us call him a Stormont insider.

He hears a lot, sees a lot and has been around long enough to be able to read the political tea leaves.

This is not the usual crisis at Stormont – not something that can be sorted out in a cleverly written paragraph or in a few sentences that can have different meanings.

This time it is a proper crisis. It is about money – and the Executive not having enough of it.

“The only person who can fix it is David Cameron and he’s not minded to,” that insider said.

This afternoon the Northern Ireland Office tweeted a line from Secretary of State Theresa Villiers: “We are not having a renegotiation of SHA [Stormont House Agreement]. Everyone needs to keep talking to one another and keep dialogue going.”

But talking about what? That nothing is agreed until everything is agreed?

If there really isn’t any more money, and if Sinn Fein does not blink, then the decision on Stormont’s life support will come in September/October.

This is most people’s best-guess – what they are reading in those Stormont tea cups.

A few days ago, in a piece he wrote for the Belfast Telegraph, DUP MP Ian Paisley thought out loudly about the possibility of five years of direct rule.

After meeting David Cameron earlier this week, Martin McGuinness said the political structures of the Good Friday Agreement are “at the point of imminent collapse”.

It all sounds grim, but it is not yet September/October when interventions might have to be considered; interventions that could lead to Sinn Fein walking.

These include the government recalling welfare powers or giving civil servants control of financial decisions.

It sounds dire and politics, for now, it seems, is in big poo-poo.

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About Author

Brian Rowan

Brian Rowan is a journalist/author. A former BBC correspondent in Belfast, four times he has been a category winner in the Northern Ireland Press and Broadcast Awards. He is the author of several books on the peace process. His latest book (published by Merrion Press) POLITICAL PURGATORY – the battle to save Stormont and the play for a New Ireland is now available at www.merrionpress.ie


  1. Barry Fennell on

    When things get chaotic or uncontrolable, then as you quite literally have outlined the shit has hit the fan. Perhaps it has become so dire that the inevitable is very close. And in a bizarre way when you mix orange and green politics you do get a strange brown concoction of a mess that we just still are appalled at – you seriously couldn’t make it up. It’s unacceptable and embarrassing but very real that politicians here have been inept, clueless and crap – you’ve summed it up Brian!

    • I think the use of “big shite” was to stress that this time this crisis is different. You wouldn’t be confident that Cameron will clean things up. Peace Process is Blair’s trophy not his.

  2. Wishing the Peace Process all the best. Money is in short supply all over Europe, but where, after a long conflict, new generations need to be brought up to work together in the spirit of peace, special attention should perhaps be paid – in Sterling. Economy is definitely a factor in bedding in the confidence that is required to keep the spoilers at bay. That does not mean that. to secure the future, there isn’t a great responsibility to innovate and create the conditions to have jobs and opportunities in Northern Ireland. Good luck with it!

    • Hi Aaro- tomorrow ten years on from the IRA statement that ordered an end to the armed campaign and here we are at another of those political crossroads. The new generation needs space in which to breathe and this process still needs help; the financial help you suggest. Thanks for writing in from Finland and hope all is good. Barney

      • Hi Barney. All well, thank you. Hoping the same is the case with you and your family. The significant date has not slipped past unnoticed. And I’m writing in from Georgia, Caucasus, where I have been working since Sept 2013. Keep up the sharp, to-the-point commentary. Aaro

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