The catastrophic mismanagement of Northern Ireland’s public finances by the two parties entrusted primarily with managing them in 2007 is about to cause real difficulty for a significant number of people.
Having lived in Financial La-La-Land for the first three years of that period – either side of the Credit Crunch – the Day of Reckoning was always nigh. In 2015, it is now.
Think on this. This week, third sector organisations began warning their staff of the potential for impending redundancy; the public sector began its trawl for “voluntary exit”; and retailers began to assess if they could afford to continue. Politicians – Unionists (the DUP and their UUP clones) in particular – chose to talk about flags and parades. Ask any victim of their financial mismanagement if they care…
The private sector, of course, had to face this all 5-7 years ago. However, when it did so, it generally (albeit not always) did it in a planned way. This does not apply to the public sector (and broader public-funded sector).
In fact, one Department is now having to reduce its funding to such a degree that, during 2015/16, it will almost literally pay staff salaries and do nothing else (it is also a victim of the ludicrously mishandled Local Government Reform programme). We really do have a case of a hospital with no patients. Such a Department will provide no value for ratepayers’/taxpayers’ money, no solace to staff under threat of losing their job (voluntarily or otherwise), and no work satisfaction for educated professionals who actually want to achieve things.
This is an inevitable consequence of denying this day would come (and, in this case, the finger of blame points primarily at Nationalists). Instead of managing a reduction to our bloated public sector and moving us gradually away from our near-absolute dependence on the public purse, we are now going to be dragged away kicking and screaming with entirely unpredictable effects on who will remain in work, which services will still be provided, and what quality they will be provided to.
It’s a complete shambles, and it’s the only issue which matters. It is the result of political incompetence – the type of incompetence which should be the only issue when a suffering electorate approaches the polling booths in May.