“When you don’t have political leadership, you don’t get decisions..” – Slugger O’Toole

“When you don’t have political leadership, you don’t get decisions and when you don’t get decisions, then you get the out-workings of what you see today in our health service.”

There’s even be an increasing tendency within the local press to start identifying senior members of what the writers of Yes Minister used to mockingly called the “permanent government” as being responsible for the lack of movement.

There are some powers of discretion available to senior civil servants, but what’s missing is that the whole point of electing MLAs is to function as a narrative bridge between the concerns of the parish and the more strategic issues of the whole region.

So if an expert report recommends folding acute services in what used to be known as the Erne Hospital in Enniskillen, that’s a decision that has to take account of the varying degrees of concerns from the local community.

A key function of political parties is to internalise these tensions and develop an narrative to enable action within a framework of strategic objectives. Although we can criticise SF and the DUP, it’s hard to spot who else is offering that kind of work.

Which of them has anything to say about health and mental health, new workplace technologies, safe and secure communities, increasing violence against women and girls, housing security, childcare provision and early years education?

These are all issues that cannot really be dealt with by sectarianising the discourse. That’s outside a lot of comfort zones (for pols and pol corrs), but it’s where the voter bonus lies, since it is the chief worry and concern for an awful lot of ordinary folk.

They largely believe politicians are either not able to deal with it, or they’re not remotely interested in helping them.

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