Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Way We Were

The Protestants always had the upper hand in Northern Ireland. For centuries, it was the Free Presbyterians who did what they pleased and if that meant ignoring the Catholics, well, that's how it was and how it would be.

Until the peace process and the return of the Stormont Assembly, that is. With such an abrupt turn, who could blame Ian Paisley Junior for doing things as they used to be done?

While the Shinners and the Brits and the Irish and the Unionists were hashing things out at St. Andrew's in Scotland, making deals to bring two opposing sides into government together, little Ian was making deals for himself. Poor lad didn't know any better, and now he's caught up in something that is considered a political scandal everywhere else on the globe.

One of his pals wanted to build a visitor's center near the Giant's Causeway in Antrim. Bring in the tourists, of course, but Seymour Sweeney stood to make a nice piece of change for himself with the project. Junior lobbied hard for Mr. Sweeney, putting the screws to former Prime Minister Tony Blair while home rule was under construction. What matters the future of Northern Ireland when a friend could use a hand?

Then there was the revelation that little Ian was double-dipping, taking a salary as a junior minister to his loving daddy while also being paid as papa's researcher in Westminster. On top of that deal, it has been discovered that the rent on the Paisley constituency office in Ballymena is sky-high, and it's the taxpayers footing the bill.

Who came out ahead on the rip-off? Junior's father-in-law, for one, as he's the director of the firm that rented the office space. Hard to say if Seymour Sweeney made out at all, since he used to be the firm's director but isn't any more.

Ah, memories of the way we were, the DUP can warble. Someone should put them on to Bob Dylan's old tunes. The times they are a-changin'.

No comments: