Jude Collins

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Stormont compassion and tasty grub

I was up at Stormont yesterday evening ( you have to go up – the parliament building stares down your throat and insists you do). I’d been invited by Conall McDevitt of the SDLP, who’s a big noise with Jim Wells (DUP) on the All Party Group for International Development, so I restrained my urge to tell them there should be a hyphen between ‘All’ and ‘Party’, and went.

It was partly interesting and partly depressing.

The interesting bits included talking to a man called John Bailey, who’d spent four years working as a scientist/missionary in Papua New Guinea (in their first year there, his family’ security guards were equipped with bows and arrows); trying to get Sinn Féin’s Barry McElduff to tell me what time he expects to do in the Omagh Half-Marathon in early April (he wouldn’t); and seeing the sad-proud faces of families as they trooped up to receive posthumous awards for their loved ones’ work with the developing world.

The depressing bit was...well, it was boring. Two hours, mainly of speeches from Conall McDevitt, Jim Wells and Jim Nicholson (who does things to the English language that should be actionable). Lots of talk about the need for the north to be outward-looking and supportive of north-eastern Uganda, the area the Assembly has decided on as their target (so to say). The fact is, most of us know, from reading and watching TV, that we live in a world stuffed with lethal inequalities, Listening to politicians tell us it’s important is like listening to your mother telling you the importance of loving your parents. Gimme a break, Ma.

I did get one memorable statistic, though: the average wage in north-eastern Uganda (how fitting that it should be linked with north-eastern Ireland) is $300 a year. We were still shaking our heads at this when the catering staff started carrying in trays loaded with sausage rolls and nice little scones and pastries, and tea and coffee and wine. A truly depressing thought then occurred: why, at eight in the evening, were all these well-fed-looking people in such need of nourishment? And if we had all skipped that bit and the saved money been sent to north-eastern Uganda, wouldn’t it have made a serious difference to at least half a dozen lives?

I didn’t bother making my excuses, I just left.


  1. Isn't it 'Conall' Mc Devitt?
    I suspect you know this anyway but like me, who really cares?

  2. Of course - laziness combined with stupidity. Apologies all round.

  3. Jude, your comments are spiteful and mean-spirited. For the record, there weren't any scones and pastries.;
    You sound a bit like your near-namesake, the biblical Judas Iscariot, who complained about Jesus being anointed with a very precious oil by Mary, sister of Lazarus, a few days before His Crucifixion arguing, just like you, Jude, that the ointment could have been sold and the money given to the poor.

  4. Thanks for your thoughts, Anon. Btw - if I'm Judas Iscariot, who was the ex-prostitute Mary Magdalene and who was Jesus up at Stormont on Monday night?

  5. Well, Jude, the most prominent female MLA there was the estimable and much-admired Anna Lo. As for the Lord, you can take your pick of Wells or McDevitt. Your call.

    BTW, Jude, weren't you representing Trocaire at the event? Financing any more Colombian "bird-watchers" who alleged their human rights were violated? If you're Trocaire's man in the North now, you've just reminded me to dump my Lenten Trocaire box in the bin.

    You're a small man, Jude, never realised quite how small you are.

  6. Hello again Anon - thanks for latest comments. No I wasn't representing Trocaire or anyone else, other than my treacherous self. Btw you still haven't told me who you're casting as Mary Magdalene and Jesus in your morality play. And will there be a tax collector? Or a donkey? AS to financing Colombian bird-watchers - the present Mrs C insists that every red cent goes into the family coffers to maintain her at the level to which she's grown accustomed. Sorry if you're a bird-fancier - or Colombia-fancier. But don't let my not-representing Trocaire affect your generous contributions - even if I were a mainstay of that fine organisation, you wouldn't be small-minded enough to punish the developing world because you thought I should hang myself, have my entrails fall from my corpse and be consigned to hell forever. Would you?