Britannia has no cash for our civil servants
--James Kelly, Irish News

The dead end kids of Ardoyne, a microcosm of all the other flag-bedecked ghettos throughout the north, have delivered a stark message to the fumbling political leaders.

The suicide of those two young Catholic men, bereft of hope and driven to despair, has shocked people over a wide area and should shame those who brought this terrible reality about.

Is this the end result of all that determined effort to unravel the Good Friday Agreement signed six long years ago?

After the funerals we heard a few of these kids detailing the harsh reality of their lives, hemmed in in one of the most deprived areas of what was acknowledged years ago as 'John Bull's political slum'.

They wanted jobs but there were none.

All day with nothing to do, surrounded by hostile loyalist
territory, risking beatings by INLA thugs when they were tempted to turn to drugs.

Two pals could take it no more and ended their young lives... is this the north's lost generation telling the failed politicians,
stuck in the stalemate of their own making, 'a plague on all your houses'?.

Others with university degrees are reenacting that sad old
play 'many young men of 20 said goodbye' and are taking to the emigrant trail. How is this to be stopped?

There are no answers from the London and Dublin guarantors of the agreement that once looked so good.

Blair and Ahern appear at their wits end, tired of repeating the old entreaties to the sick counties' political dinosaurs, roaring endlessly about battles long ago.

The politicians lately elected to resume devolution, or limited home rule, are lurching around without a home, awaiting the pleasure of the most outlandish bigots left in Europe, led by the modern version of 'Roaring Hanna'.

The rest of the muddled and confused unionist no men are back to turmoil.

Having shed Donaldson and his turncoats to the DUP, nothing is changed with reports this week of plots to replace Trimble by has beens such as Lord John Taylor or Grand Master Smyth MP. Any day now we expect the headline 'Trimble has quit'.

For that confused ragbag of unionism as we knew it, there is only one word to describe its predicament – repeat, implode or collapse inward under pressure.

When that lost generation ask for hope, what do they get but flags, constitutions, bordermania reheated, a united Ireland in 10 years (Dublin: 'Er, too costly, too soon')...

All pretty bubbles, flying so high up in the sky... and more and more elections to this and that... But never anything about the here and now of an economy on the skids.

Have elections become an end in itself?

Elections on the brain?

They talk about nothing else.

Meantime, is Tony's rival, Chancellor Brown tightening the purse strings for poor old neverneverland?

The civil servants, who came out on the streets demanding a pay rise on a par with that snatched so quickly by their bossmen, were handed a poison cup by their temporary rulers from Westminster.

They were not told their claim was unjustified but simply that there was no more money left in the Stormont kitty! But what about the millions already flushed down the drain in this lawyers' paradise. Squandermania on the costly scandal of the marching season and the lunatic Drumcree battle now happily airbrushed out, just mouldy old dough, not talked about in polite circles around Portadown.. wilful waste everywhere...

Not a pretty picture for our hope deferred (alias devolution)
awaiting the DUP-Sinn Féin breakthrough.

Months have passed but not an inch forward.

But ho ho! what's this?

News from far off America that the presidential election in November could be a photo finish with Bush fighting for his life before the onslaught of Senator John Kerry, the runaway Democratic hopeful.

All he needs is to clinch the huge Irish American vote and this week came manna, not from heaven, but from an angry unknown Upper Bann DUP assembly member, one David Simpson.

His speech branded Senator Kerry as "a friend of Irish terrorism" because he dared criticise the Paisleyites.

Normally the outpouring of such a nonentity would pass unnoticed but in an election this is grist to the mill.

What a laugh if this taunt proved the spark to set alight the
Massachusetts senator's presidential challenge on polling day?

Reminds me of the Skibbereen Eagles warning to the Czar of Russia.

Fools rush in where angels and DUP top brass fear to tread.

February 22, 2004

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