It may at first glance seem unlikely, but Arlene Foster is a very lucky woman. Sir Patrick Coghlin’s report on the cash-for-ash scheme is to be published this afternoon and it will contain some damning facts.
According to Sam McBride’s book Burned “Some senior figures thought it was legitimate to milk the treasury teat even when a perverse scheme such as cash-for-ash was running out of control….The exposure of that culture will leave a long legacy. Like the boy who cried wolf, when in years to come Stormont goes to the treasury with a genuine claim for increased funding – especially around a health service which in places is collapsing – its claims will be met with deep skepticism.”
Add to that the fact that Arlene Foster was to have been far away in the United States for Paddy’s Day, only then Paddy’s Day has been cancelled so she’s stuck at home,. Is it a bit nuts, then, to refer to her as very lucky?
It is, Except when you call to mind one thing: Covid-19. This is the factor that trumps all other factors. This is the reason Arlene is having to stay at home. The reason all flights from mainland Europe are forbidden in the US. The reason all the south’s schools are closed (and, in the considered view of educationalist Jamie Bryson, the north’s schools should be closed too.) This is the reason vast sums of money are being pumped into the health system, the reason the south of Ireland plans to use hostels, hotels, any and every source of extra beds available. And this is the reason the financial world is about to plunge into a recession.
Not nice, you’ll agree. But because coronavirus trumps everything – climate crisis, Brexit, Donald Trump’s hair – the accusing finger that will very likely point at Arlene this afternoon will quickly withdraw and with the other fingers go for a thorough, loads-of-soap-and-hot-water scrub.
Arlene ‘Lucky’Foster: the sole beneficiary of a global pandemic.