Hands up if you remember the bad old days? Back in the mists of time, when the only light to be seen was that of an open farm-shed with six burners going like, well, like blazes. When each Nolan show dripped out another few incriminating details that’d keep people listening to him, and the DUP was running round in circles emitting high-pitched squeaks.
It all seems at least a century ago, so much has happened since: the great crocodile election, the Irish Language Act demonstrations, the hilarious attempts of the SDLP and Fianna Fail to join forces throughout the country, and of course the recent dream election in the south that saw the old order not just rapidly changing but disintegrated for keeps. And of course there was/is that Brexit-and-borders thing.
So do you remember the RHI scandal? Do you remember what you felt then? And is it the same as you feel now? Speaking personally, I feel differently. Not that I don’t think the whole thing was a monstrous corruption where the DUP party got so smart it almost swallowed itself. The thing is, it’s so long ago. And we’ve had so many other things that are more recent and, it seems, more urgent. They tell me Sam McBride’s book on RHI is a great read but frankly, I’ve heard so much about it already, and there are so many more recently matters demanding attention, I don’t feel the loss of not reading it.
The word is that Arlene Foster plans to be out of the country when the RHI report finally, finally comes out. I’ve no idea if that’s in fact the case, but I do know she has one powerful ally batting on her behalf: Time. Remember the fierce anger of the PUL commnnity at the re-routing of the Orange parade at Garvaghy Road and other places? Remember the intensity of the demonstrations against the Anglo-Irish Agreement (‘Ulster Says No’) and against the limited flying of Belfast City Hall’s Union flag? Time passed and people moved on to other matters. Stand by for the same thing to happen with the cash-for-ash rip-off.