So. Arlene Foster is now happy to have an investigation into the Cash for Ash financial outrage, and says that since she’s no longer First Minister (as a result of Martin McGuinness stepping down), an inquiry needs to be launched and a general election avoided.
Arlene is like a teenager member of a family who’ve been running a joint small business. Then sums of money start going missing from that area of the business overseen by the teenager. There’s a family conference and it’s decided to make a methodical search of the teenager’s room. They ask the teenager to step aside so they can get to the bottom of this missing money thing, but the teenager refuses. “Why should I stand aside – I’ve done nothing wrong! Leave it – I’ll check the matter out myself. Let’s get back and run our business as usual.” The rest of the family point out that they can’t go back to business as usual until the truth about this missing money is established. “Well I want to be there if there’s a search – I have done nothing wrong!”
Finally, as a last resort, the family march the stroppy teenager to the spare room and insist that she stays there. When she tries to emerge and block the search, they lock the spare room door. As they head along the landing towards the teenager’s room, they hear a voice from the spare room shouting: “I’ve changed my mind! I’ve decided I won’t stand in the way of you searching my room. OK? I’ll stop obstructing you!” Several members of the family point out that she’s agreed to stop obstructing because she can no longer obstruct, not because she’d had any change of heart.
I know the parallels aren’t exact, but the core situation is similar. Arlene, who had refused to step down and who drove Martin McGuinness to take the step that he did, is now declaring that she is no longer an obstacle to an inquiry so what’s all the fuss?
Last night I tried to explain the political situation here to a friend of mine in Canada. It took some time because he kept breaking in with exclamations of “You’re kidding!” and occasionally even stronger language. When I’d finish the whole Cash-for-Ash-and-After saga, there was a sharp intake of breath on the other end of the line. “You know” he said, “when I was a boy my father ran an animal sanctuary in Ontario. I remember one day he brought home a bag containing a weasel. Your story reminds me of that day, and the way the bag bulged and heaved as the weasel jumped about.”